No Picture
Business Checks

Affiliate Marketing: A Guide to Successful Promotion of Products and Services

Affiliate marketing is a growing business over the internet these days because of the number of businesses vying to drive traffic to their sites and generate more sales. As we all know, website traffic is one of the deciding factors to a company’s success over the internet, be it in search engine rankings or customer following. This is why a lot of online companies these days are paying top money to affiliates who can drive traffic to their sites and generate sales for them. In most cases, commissions as high as 75% of a generated sale goes to the affiliate who is able to sell the product through his or her website or blog.
A lot of people are taking advantage of affiliate marketing because of the high income potential without money going out of their pockets for start-up expenses. This is more promising than the conventional methods of starting a business where you have to shell out a chunk of cash to open shop. What’s better is that affiliates can do business without leaving home and can make money even if they don’t go online on a particular day. If you want to be an affiliate marketer, here is a guide that can help you.
First off, think of a niche that has a need for certain products or services but is rarely tapped because of its size. Large companies don’t market to small niches as this may prove costly for them in terms of the number of customers actually buying the product.
Second, find a very good affiliate marketing program that is related to the niche you’ve chosen to market. You can search the internet for websites that offer lists of affiliate programs that cater to almost any niche. Make sure to compare each program to come up with the best rates with which you will be paid once you become successful in producing a sale.
After you’ve chosen the right affiliate program, create a website or a blog that will cater to content relating to the niche you are trying to market. Make sure that these are optimized so your readers and potential customers can easily find you.
Always provide fresh content for your readers and target niche. Affiliate marketing is only successful if you keep the contents fresh and informative so people can be encouraged to try out the product you are promoting. New posts and write-ups should be done on a regular basis to keep your target audience checking back for additional information.
It may also be a good idea to sign up for search engine and RSS directories and encourage your followers and customers to sign up for RSS feeds. This will keep them updated on whether there is new content available on your site or blog.
Of course, do not expect to earn from these programs overnight as this requires patience and a good network of affiliate sites that you can set up. For each niche that you want to target, create a separate website or blog to be able to keep track of your success. Affiliate marketing can work for you in many ways, but you have to put in the necessary effort as well.…

No Picture
Business Checks

Starting a Business With Pure Passion – A Guide For Success

Three years ago I was not a runner. I was somewhat athletic but I certainly was not a runner. Now, here I was, approaching mile 22 of my first full marathon and self doubt was starting to creep in. “What was thinking? The longest I had ever run during training was 20 miles. What made me think I could get to the finish?” Every ounce of my body was screaming in pain. The worst part was the pain was so much more than physical; it was total mental and physical exhaustion beyond anything I had ever felt before.
So what could I do now? I had visualized myself finishing this race everyday for at least 100 days. I had given up so much of my summer fun to train and push myself to complete this challenge. I had recruited the support of my friends and family. So what could I do now that my body was screaming NO? I let my vision guide me through the pain.
With my little sister running alongside me, pushing and encouraging me, there was only one answer; just get to Todd. You see Todd is my husband and he was waiting for me at mile 22 so that he could “bring me home”. In preparation for the marathon, I had asked various members of my friends and family to run alongside me during consecutive segments of the race so that I would always have someone to help pace me. It turns out, Todd and Sarah’s job was about much more than pacing. They were great support to help me through the toughest physical and mental challenge of my life.
Why did I choose to run a marathon? It is simple, the search for constant and never ending improvement. I have learned to always keep challenging myself and to make big goals that both excite me and scare me at the same time.
For me, becoming an entrepreneur and starting my own business in specialty medical sales was one of the biggest and scariest goals I had ever set.
I was a nurse. I had transitioned to medical sales after a few years and I found that I was pretty good at it. I had a strong work ethic and I related well to the people I was selling to. But, I was educated as a nurse. I really knew nothing about starting a business. The self talk and self doubt were very loud voices in my head.
These voices are built over time from past experiences. These voices are there to keep us in our comfort zone. I believe most people listen to their inner voices when they have a big idea. A person might see a beautiful house and think “boy, I would love to have a house like that”. And then in the next thought they would have cancels that idea, with a negative like “I could never afford that”.
Well that’s exactly what I did at first. I pushed the idea of having my own business away as quickly as it came to me. But something different must have happened this time. I started to have thoughts about owing my own business; I started to see myself enjoying the work I was doing. I imagined the freedom entrepreneurialism would bring me.
This idea started to expand and consume more of my thoughts. It’s like a seed was planted and I couldn’t stop its growth. I began to notice all the entrepreneurs around me and I engaged them in conversation about what it took to become a business owner. The excitement of the idea was overwhelming but it also scared the crap out of me.
I must have gone back and forth on the idea for 6 months. Todd and I discussed the pros and cons and we discussed the risk involved to our finances. For 6 months I could not get myself to take that final step towards commitment. However, I kept researching the subject, planning, talking to bankers, attorneys, and accounts. Still, the final step of commitment wasn’t there.
The turmoil of the back and forth was terrible. I felt stuck, like I wasn’t going anywhere. The doubt was like a virus trying to find a way to keep me in my comfort zone.
However, as much as that doubt was trying to keep me in my comfort zone, that vision of freedom as an entrepreneur was growing much stronger and more powerful. I could not stop thinking about it. And then it finally happened. One day, Todd and I were floating on the pool and a decision was made. We decided that we had to take the risk, mortgage everything we owned, to see where this would take us.
You see, I believe, once the mind is expanded by …

No Picture
Business Insider

Blog and Article Topics For Startups

The toughest part of article and blog marketing is coming up with interesting topics to write about. Typically, the way you write up a publishable article differs a bit from what you put on the company’s blog. Articles tend to be more fact-based and educational, while blog posts provide an opportunity for more of a personal, op-ed bent. In either case, you need something to start with. Here are some ideas for each of these writing tasks:
Topic Ideas for Articles
The purpose of publishing online articles is two-fold – to increase the number of backlinks to your site and to encourage potential customers to click through to your business site. Thus, article topics should focus on what your potential clients want and need to know.
Start with what you do and how you get it done. Break it down by product line, single service, or some step in the process. Explain why what you do is important, and how it benefits your customer. Publishable articles typically must be at least 500 words (about 6 to 8 paragraphs) but rarely need to be much longer. This means that you can write a separate article not only for each product or service you offer, but for individual features of each – what the feature is, what problem it solves or benefit it provides, why it’s a great deal, and where to find them. Bam – 500 words. Do not sell in your article… save the sales pitch for your resource box or the landing page on your website.
For example, a hardwood floor retailer has started carrying a line of glues that have low VOCs. An article may compare standard glue to low VOC glues, explain the differences, explain why a low VOC product is a better choice and in what situations, and how to identify a low VOC product. Then, in the resource box, the reader is directed to the landing page on their website that provides more information on the new line of low VOC glues and a way to contact their company to order.
Once you have published an article for each product and feature, you can always start over again. While you generally cannot submit the identical article twice, the odds are that writing a fresh article on the same topic will end up with a different approach than the previous one. Any time you add a new product or discover a new benefit, be sure that idea goes on your article topics list.
Aside from products, services and features, effective article topics include any tangentially relevant subject that would get your target market thinking about what you offer. For example, if you sell dog grooming supplies, write about different breeds of dogs and the best matches of lifestyle and breed. People thinking about getting a new dog look for that type of they will be looking for the supplies you sell. If you sell tile flooring, publish articles about the allergy problems carpet can cause.
If you sell business services, you may write articles about aspects of accounting or taxes that are interesting to business owners – possibly even the ones that you have dealt with. If a struggling entrepreneur is reading an accounting article by a small business expert who also happens to provide SEO services, they might well click through and continue reading… and realize they need those services too.
Include a tool on your website for potential customers to ask questions. Very often, these questions will lead you to excellent article topics. You get two benefits here — the opportunity to interact directly with a potential customer by answering their question, and the ability to turn that answer into a general interest article.
Topic Ideas for Blogs
Blog topics, and posts, for that matter, are much easier to come up with. You can blog about your business, the industry, recent news, your customers… the list goes on and on. Every time you submit an article, bust out a quick blog with a link to the article (on your own site, preferably). Include a little opinion in your blogs, and ask for responses from your readers.
Sign up for newsfeeds related to your business and industry and jot down quick 150 to 300 word response to the news. Feature an employee or customer, promote community events that your business sponsors, evaluate the competition (professionally, of course). Because blog postings can be so much shorter than published articles, they should be far easier to create and post.
Keep the tone positive and professional, and keep the content interesting. Faithful blog followers often become excellent reference — they will forward your link through their own blogs and even through Twitter and Facebook, building your traffic as they go.
Just Keep Writing
Whether you focus your efforts …

No Picture
Business Line

Why Starting a Business Is Like Slow Cooking

New business owners often want to create a business the way we prepare an instant frozen dinner. Pop into the microwave, press a button and enjoy dinner almost immediately. But for long-lasting business growth, think of starting from scratch, simmering slowly and waiting till you’re really ready to serve.
Now I am being biased here, but I refuse to eat frozen meals. They taste like cardboard. They tend to have lots of preservatives. Even the dog will turn up her nose when I offer her the leftovers.
When I take the time to cook a meal from scratch – stir fry, simmer or bake – I find the labor often isn’t much greater. The resulting meal tastes about 100 times better and you know exactly where the ingredients came from. It’s also more satisfying.
So how does this apply to business? If you look around the Internet you see all kinds of ads promising to get your business off to a FAST start. You hear stories of people who skyrocketed to success.
First of all, many people who jumped to success have a hidden X factor: a background in sales (the ultimate ingredient in copywriting) or a few years where they plugged away learning – usually some combination of luck and persistence that’s the 90% you don’t see.
But taking the longer path may be more desirable. Why would you ever want to do that?
(1) It’s a good idea to move slowly when you start without a lot of money. You may need to take a j.o.b. so you can invest in your business. This strategy makes better sense than starting a business without any resources. If you can’t afford $97 for an eBook or you’re watching the minutes on your cell phone, you won’t make a lot of progress.
(2) Sometimes you need time to figure out your business. If you don’t have a background in sales (or a business background where you had to get clients) you will need more time to find your way in this new world. “Margaret” spent nearly a year learning her way around her new field. She did lots of pro bono work, studied and began finding clients before investing in a web site.
(3) You’re forced to do one thing at a time. Work on just one eBook and promote that eBook hard. Work on one niche and build up your profitability.
Then take what you learn and start the next project. One step at a time, you’ll reach a more satisfying destination.…

No Picture
Business Checks

6 Questions Entrepreneurs Should Ask About Every New Idea

I love entrepreneurs! Generally, I’ve noticed a drive and a determination that takes creative-minded, bootstrapping, do-it-yourselfers a long way. Those who show true ingenuity, persistence, and resilience inspire us all to have a brighter attitude.
I also love entrepreneurs because they ask me to help them with things like logo and graphic design, social media strategy, and web-based user experience. Oh, and I charge for those things, so it’s doubly-nice.
One thing I’ve noticed, however, about super-entrepreneurs is that their minds tend to race about 10,000 RPMs with cool, new ideas. I really wonder how many ideas are eventually left laying in the dust, not because they weren’t good ideas, but because not quite enough thought and planning went into them.
Having received tons of emails with ideas from entrepreneurs hoping to take an idea big-time, I thought I’d throw together this list of the six things I either say, or want to say in response. They are mostly questions, not recommendations, but the questions themselves are often overlooked.
Is it possible?
I know this one sounds obvious. If it weren’t would I be asking about the idea to begin with? And aren’t all things possible to those who believe? Certainly, but quite a few great ideas are laying in graves because the technology was either not ready, or too expensive.
Who else is doing it?
Use search engines and social networks to scout out the potential competition. Sometimes you wind up jumping into an arena filled with insurmountable competition. You’re probably not going to start the business that will topple an Amazon or Apple.
Can it be done well remarkably?
Doing something well doesn’t make it successful. Doing it well enough to get noticed does. Can you execute the idea in such a way that people will buy into it?
Do I have accesses to the resources to get it done?
This thought may sound strange, but some ideas are good (or noble) enough that you should consider handing it off to someone who can get it done. And every good entrepreneur knows that “resources” aren’t limited to the money in your pocket. It includes the money in other people’s pockets as well!
Is the idea something I’m passionate enough about to stick with over the long haul?
Pretty self-explanatory. Most of us have been there, burying an idea for which we had great enthusiasm, but didn’t see the gap between enthusiasm and real passion.
Can it be monetized?
This is the slimy question nobody thinks anyone should ask, but it must be faced. Why? Because if it can’t be monetized, it can’t be sustained or expanded. Sometimes that’s okay. Sometimes a good idea needs to piggy-back some other more profitable concept. Sometimes, the idea needs to go back into the incubator though.
These questions are seeds. You may have more to face. But at least face these and use them as a filter for every new idea. Let your genius lie asoak in the probing process. If an idea survives… wow!…

No Picture
Business Line

Secrets to Starting a Business Blog and Getting It Off the Ground

Are you just getting started with blogging for your business? This article is part of a series that will help you get your blog off the ground.
Choosing Your Post Length
There are differing opinions on this issue. Some expert bloggers suggest longer posts so that with each post, you have the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and capture the reader’s interest in your topic. Others point out that some readers will click away from a post that seems really long before they have even had a chance to read it. They recommend keeping your posts short but informative.
I tend to side with the latter opinion. If it too short, readers may wonder if they have read anything of value, but I think it is even worse to make them too long, but the length will intimidate readers who otherwise might have stayed to read the post.
I suggest posts that are 200-500 words in length, especially if you are writing every day. If you would like to give more information that that you can write articles and provide a link to them in your blog post or create reports that you can offer your readers for free.
Increasing Traffic to Your Blog
Once you have your blog ready and have begun to post, how do you get people to find it? One way is to write articles, as I mentioned before, and post links to your blog at the end of them. Use an article directory, such as EzineArticles, and in the resource box, mention your blog and provide a link.
Another thing you can do is visit other blogs that have a similar topic and leave comments with a link back to your blog. Find the ones you enjoy reading and comment on them regularly. Other readers will want to know more about you and will follow you back to your own blog.
List Building
Ideally, your blog will help you find the customers who are interested in what you are selling. But if you can find a way to increase their exposure to you by adding them to your list, they get to know you better and you get a chance to persuade them to work with you or buy from you.
To add them to your list, you will need to have something on your blog that provides a reason for them to give you their name and email address. A sign-up box that offers a newsletter subscription, a free report or something else of value to them that they can only receive if they sign up for it. Place this sign-up box high on the page in an obvious place so that they will see it every time they visit your blog.…

No Picture
Business Insider

Structuring My Business to Save Tax

Whether you are a new business or have been trading for some time, you will at some point wonder whether you should you think of incorporating your business. Is it best to trade through your own limited company rather than as a sole trader or partnership? It’s a very good question to ask for both business and potential tax reasons. In general, it makes more sense to incorporate for business reasons rather than just to save tax, as the tax regime changes and any planned savings may no longer be available.
In some sectors, such as IT contractors, it is hard to obtain contracts unless you trade through a limited company. The reasons for this are not always obvious; it is just the way things are. If you are taking risks such as in ordering large stock for an order that could be cancelled, then there can be a real benefit in the limited liability offered by trading as a company. Your own possessions are generally protected from any claim made against the company. However, in many situations, taking out a good insurance policy is all you need.
Perhaps most significantly though, a company structure makes it easier to involve outside investors in the company. Any business seeking to involve new investors will find it easier to structure the business by issuing or selling shares rather than complicated partnership agreements.
There can be tax advantages in trading through a company as there is also more flexibility in handling the owner’s remuneration in such a way as to minimise the tax liability. Limited Companies are taxed on their trading profits, in addition to other sources of income such as interest and rent, and corporation tax is assessed after any owner’s salary has been deducted. It is possible therefore to adjust the amount taken from the company in any one tax year, as well as the way in which it is taken out. Some profits can be retained in the company if the owner would otherwise be likely to pay higher rate tax personally.
For sole traders all income is taxable on their business profits, in addition to any other sources of income. There is little or no flexibility for deferring some of those profits to another year if you happen to have a particularly good year and are taxed at the higher rate. An additional advantage of a company is that shareholders can take profits as dividends which do not attract National Insurance Contributions. It may not sound exciting but significant savings can be made by an appropriate remuneration strategy.
The company will be regulated by Companies House, which has strict rules for reporting trading accounts and for the conduct of directors and other company officials. You will need to be satisfied that you can manage the additional administrative burden. You can always start as a sole trader and later incorporate. In fact, this is a common route when a new business is unsure of how large it will grow and whether the savings will outweigh the costs. It may be that there is also a potential tax saving on incorporating the company but this will depend on whether there is any realistic goodwill in the business.
To consider this and other issues properly, you will need to consult a professional advisor. Incorporating tends to be a decision business owners make a few times at most over a lifetime, and it makes sense to consult an experienced expert before acting.…